Barbara Shockey, a member of Village Garden Club since 1992, moved from South Bend, Indiana, to Cleveland Heights in the late 1950s. She discusses her careers in teaching and real estate, offices held in the garden club, and her work to research the club’s history in preparation for its 85th anniversary in 2015. Shockey provides a summary of this history from its founding, including extensive commentary on the Shaker Lakes freeway fight in the 1960s, as well as on the Horseshoe Lake dam controversy and the club’s remote activities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shockey, Barbara (interviewee)
Cameron, Caitlen (interviewer)
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:00] Alright. Today is July 13, 2021. It is a little cloudy out and might rain. We are in Cleveland Heights. I am Caitlen Cameron with the Shaker Historical Society. And I am with...
Barbara Shockey [00:00:16] Barbara Shockey, B-A-R-B-A-R-A S-H-O-C-K-E-Y, with the Village Garden Club.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:26] Woohoo! So, Barbara, I kind of just want to ask and start with some basic questions, but before that, I want to ask you, are you okay with me recording this conversation?
Barbara Shockey [00:00:35] Yes, I am.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:35] Okay, and it will be on the record to listen for ages to come. Are you excited?
Barbara Shockey [00:00:41] A little frightened. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:43] That's okay. I would be, too. But we're going to start this and I guess so, when were you born?
Barbara Shockey [00:00:49] I was born in July [...] 1946. So I have a birthday in two days.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:57] Oh, my gosh. Well, happy early birthday.
Barbara Shockey [00:00:59] Thank you. And yeah, I was.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:02] How old will you be?
Barbara Shockey [00:01:04] Seventy-five.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:06] That's amazing and really great. So where were you born?
Barbara Shockey [00:01:11] I was born in Springfield, Missouri, although I never really lived there. My mother went home to her mother's house, my grandparents’ house in Springfield, Missouri, to have me because my dad was a pilot with United Airlines early pilot back in the '40s after World War Two ended. And he had been teaching the cadets to fly in the Army Air Corps. He worked for United and they were always flying. And it was she couldn't count on him being home when she went into labor, so she went back home.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:47] Okay, so where was home?
Barbara Shockey [00:01:50] So home was the first year or two, as I have been told, we lived in New York City and Chicago because that was those were the main hubs of United. And I guess for a few months I lived in a drawer in a hotel. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:09] Really?
Barbara Shockey [00:02:10] Yeah. That's where my little little crib was when I was an infant, not infant, but, you know, very, very young. And so that was their favorite story. I got pulled out of a dresser drawer. So that became a safe place for a baby.
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:27] Well, that's crazy but also inspiring at the same.
Barbara Shockey [00:02:31] Yeah. Resourceful anyway. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:34] Yeah. And a funny story too. So you grew up there.
Barbara Shockey [00:02:40] Well, and then Chicago... I lived there until I was in kindergarten. Then we moved to South Bend, Indiana, because Dad left United and worked for Studebaker and headed up the flight department there and moved from South Bend to Cleveland. When I was in the sixth grade and Dad worked for Diamond Shamrock Corporation, headed up the flight department for that corporation. And I have been in Cleveland ever since. So Cleveland is really home, although I have some wonderful years growing up in South Bend as my as in elementary school, I had a great time.
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:24] Okay, so when you when you moved here, did you stay here and go to school? Did you go to school somewhere else?
Barbara Shockey [00:03:32] No, I stayed here. We rented a house in Euclid for the first year and so we know where we wanted to live. And then we moved to Cleveland Heights. I ended up going to Cleveland Heights High School. I, when I got married, moved to Shaker and lived in Shaker from oh, in the sixties, late sixties, '68 I guess, to '74. And then I got remarried and moved to Cleveland Heights and I've been in the same house for almost forty-eight years now.
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:12] I know. And this is a beautiful, beautiful house.
Barbara Shockey [00:04:15] Thank you. I do love it. Although it's probably time to scale down.
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:21] Yeah. How many rooms are in here?
Barbara Shockey [00:04:25] Oh my. Well, it's really just a big small house.
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:27] Big small house.
Barbara Shockey [00:04:28] I mean there's a lot of rooms on the first floor, but upstairs we have really three main bedrooms and two maid's rooms.
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:34] Okay.
Barbara Shockey [00:04:35] So it's not a big family house, but we have quite a few rooms on the first floor.
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:41] Yeah, it's definitely beautiful. And you can tell you're in the Garden Club because of all the plants on the walls [Barbara laughs] and on the floor and everywhere. It’s amazing.
Barbara Shockey [00:04:50] Don't look too close. There may be a few weeds. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:55] That's okay. So you said you live here, your husband. Do you have any children?
Barbara Shockey [00:04:59] Yes, we've raised three children here and I have all three of them are sons and of various ages. And the oldest is fifty-six or seven. And the youngest will be thirty-five this Thursday because he was born on my birthday.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:19] Oh yeah. Similar birthday. That's cool.
Barbara Shockey [00:05:20] Yeah. Yeah. So that's the family and it's been a great family house for us.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:26] That's great. Well, I guess, so you lived in Shaker and then in Cleveland Heights. So what did you do for a living? And did you go to college?
Barbara Shockey [00:05:39] Oh yeah. Okay, college was, well let me, let me start with what I did for a living here. Well, I taught nursery school when I was probably 18, 19, and then when I turned 21 I got my real estate license. That was the youngest in Ohio that you could do that. I think they've lowered it since then, but anyway, I have done throughout my life some aspect of real estate, either real estate, residential sales, became a broker in 1977, went on to study real estate appraisal, got a designation and a state license with appraisal did that. And then I worked for Ossendorf-Morris Co. as an appraiser and then Diamond Shamrock wanted me to work with them on employee relocation and later office leasing industrial facility management. So I stayed corporate until that corporation left Cleveland in '84. Worked for Standard Oil for a while when they built their new building. Then I went back to appraisal because I had a late in life child and said I want to go home. So I came home and worked on my appraisal as an independent appraiser and then I realized I really belonged in sales. So we went back into residential sales, which is what I started in [crosstalk] when I was 21. Yeah, full circle. So and I still do some residential sales with a partner. I had my own company for a while, but decided travel was too important to be a Lone Ranger.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:31] So that's cool.
Barbara Shockey [00:07:32] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:32] That's a really esteemed career and really amazing that you accomplished all that and, you know, it really shows in your progress. So, yeah,
Barbara Shockey [00:07:41] I've had a interesting career, that is for sure.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:45] So you said you did go to college?
Barbara Shockey [00:07:48] Yes, I started out at Cleveland State at night.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:52] Woohoo, my alma mater.
Barbara Shockey [00:07:53] Okay. And then when I married Terry, he had family affiliations and his own affiliation with Case Western Reserve. And he said, would you want to transfer? And I, of course, went yes, because they had a wonderful theater program and I thought I might major in theater. But he said, you know, you might want to major [laughs] in something that you can earn a living if you need to! And he didn't like the hours of theater very much, so I minored in theater. I compromised and majored in economics and had a second minor in managerial studies.
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:31] Wow.
Barbara Shockey [00:08:31] So I did get my... I was just shy of thirty years old when I got my BA.
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:39] Wow.
Barbara Shockey [00:08:40] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:41] So what was your dream? If you wouldn't have done theater as a major, what would you wanted to do?
Barbara Shockey [00:08:47] Oh, that's a very good question. Hmm. Well, you know, back in the '70s when I was thinking this theater, I mean, live theater was probably what I was planning to do. But of course, TV or movies would always be a dream. I've always admired Lucille Ball.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:12] Yes.
Barbara Shockey [00:09:13] And just I like comedy. And, you know, I just thought, well, we'll find a fit. But so I use my theater to just do more public speaking.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:25] See, now you're on the public microphone again, [Barbara laughs] so maybe it's another full circle.
Barbara Shockey [00:09:30] I don't know, this is uncomfortable! [laughs] I have to get used to this.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:35] Just use your training from before.
Barbara Shockey [00:09:37] Okay. I'll try. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:40] Well that's great, so I kind of, I guess I just want to highlight on... So you went to school and you had this great real estate career. I guess what I want to know is how did you get involved with gardening?
Barbara Shockey [00:09:56] Okay.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:56] Like, did you garden as a kid or...?
Barbara Shockey [00:09:59] Actually, no. My memories of anything garden-related as a child involved probably when we were four years old, a bunch of us went into a neighbor's yard and there was a couple, several beautiful red tomatoes, and we each picked one. It was a hot summer day and we probably hid behind the, I don't know, behind the garage somewhere and started eating these tomatoes and sucking the juice out of every section and thinking it was the most glorious thing we ever tasted. And then I'm realizing somebody grew this from nothing. I mean, it was like a miracle.
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:46] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:10:46] You know, it just did not come from the store! [laughs] I was like, shocked. And of course, then guilt set in after that. And I thought, oh, this was not a good thing. And so we didn't, didn't pull that stunt again. Then there was another moment in my memory of another neighbor. Now, my mother was not a gardener, but some of the neighbors were, and this woman had dug this hole and I watched her. And again, I was maybe four or five years old at the most, and she filled it with water, just turned on the hose and filled the hole with water. And then she put what I what I think was a rose bush in this hole and then filled it in with dirt. And I thought that was amazing. All that water where did it go? [laughs] And she, that was how it is really pretty much how you are supposed to plant some of these things is fill the hole with water.
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:43] Really?
Barbara Shockey [00:11:44] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:45] I've never heard it done that way.
Barbara Shockey [00:11:46] Okay, there you go. [laughs] So. Well, I doubt... Some of my garden club members are probably saying, oh, what does she know? So... [laughs] and I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure you fill that hole with water. Also, you can time how long it takes the hole to absorb the water...
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:05] Oh.
Barbara Shockey [00:12:05] And that'll tell you a lot about your soil. So that's a whole other chapter, which I don't know enough about to teach. so. So anyway, that and then I guess my third and last memory was being back at my grandmother's house in Springfield during the summer and playing hide and seek and hiding what I think must have been a garden filled with some roses. And I remember smelling the most glorious smell and I don't know what kind. I think it's roses. But to this day, if I'm in a room with that smell, I'm back at my grandmother's.
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:45] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:12:45] It's kind of a fun moment on memories. So that's my gardening experience. I ended up joining the Garden Club, the Village Garden Club, because it really came through my involvement with the Cleveland Yale Ball. My husband was a Yalie or is a Yalie and we were involved in the Yale Ball and there were several other men that were Yalies and their wives were Garden Club members. And it was Anne Gardiner and Anne Stevens. And they cornered me and said, we want to propose you for this garden club. Well, I knew nothing. You know, I thought well, I thought, you know, it would be kind of fun because my whole career has been male dominated. I was the first female appraiser, the first non-clerical in wherever I was working.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:42] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:13:42] And so it was kind of lonely. I didn't really have a chance to get to be around women.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:47] Mhm.
Barbara Shockey [00:13:48] And I thought probably time I did that. So I joined the Garden Club and at that time I did not have a clue that we had a Cherry Tree Grove.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:00] Really?
Barbara Shockey [00:14:00] No, they didn't back then. They weren't really. At least my proposers were more interested in the fact that I had a big house and could probably host meetings. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:10] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:14:11] So I think that was my qualification. [laughs] But I ended up joining the club and still working pretty much full time. So I was often not available. I would be able to stop in for the luncheon and then maybe sneak out while the program was underway. So I had minimal involvement for for some years.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:31] And then what year did you join?
Barbara Shockey [00:14:33] Oh, in 1992.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:33] '92. Okay.
Barbara Shockey [00:14:33] Yeah. So, and I had no ambition to get deeply involved in the club until one day I was at a meeting and it, it just didn't seem to go too well. It wasn't a whole lot of organization and I finally just kind of shook my head and said I think it's time to get involved. [laughs] So I volunteered to do some leadership if they needed me.
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:06] Okay. Well, what do you think the first thing that you volunteered for was?
Barbara Shockey [00:15:13] As it turns out, they put me as Vice President.
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:16] Right away?
Barbara Shockey [00:15:16] Yes! [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:16] Wow.
Barbara Shockey [00:15:16] Yes! [ well, I told them I would be lousy at recording secretary and I didn't see myself as Corresponding Secretary. And those were really the only other positions offered and totally not knowing what I was doing. I said, sure, I'll be the Vice President.
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:37] Wow, were you still working full time?
Barbara Shockey [00:15:39] No. At that point I'd gone back into residential sales. So in residential sales, you're working. When the client wants you, you can have a couple of weeks where you don't have a lot to do. And if you get an out-of-town client, you were on. You know, you go when they want you. So there was just not predictable, but it worked out, it worked out. And by the time I became really involved as a Vice President, I had more control because I took on a partner. So it worked out. But you had to sort of get to that point.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:18] So as Vice President, what were your duties? I guess is what...
Barbara Shockey [00:16:23] Well, it wasn't terribly defined at the time. I think it's better defined now. We've sort of tightened up some bylaws, but it was basically to do anything the President needed.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:37] Mhm.
Barbara Shockey [00:16:38] Yeah, I was sort of the right-hand gal on that. But as it turns out, I thought we were about to have our 85th anniversary and at that time we didn't have a lot of extra money in the bank for a party or some big event. And we were trying to scratch our heads. What, what can we do special? And I came up with this marvelous idea that I would research the history of the club and at every meeting I would spend about five minutes giving a little snippet of our history.
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:19] Mhm.
Barbara Shockey [00:17:19] And I thought this would be easy. [laughs] It was anything but easy. I then got all the archives from Mickey Horner, who was moving from her house in Shaker out to a retirement facility, and she was delighted to get rid of them... [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:38] Pass on the torch.
Barbara Shockey [00:17:40] Yeah. Because they were filling a whole closet. I mean, it was we had... We were fortunate. Village had a lot of archives. I just couldn't believe how many boxes and scrapbooks and minutes, boxes of minutes from years and years and years. So I brought them all home and I proceeded to start to read them and I started to say, Okay, I'm going to take the decade of the '30s, so I would concentrate on that. And then each decade. And really didn't do much past the '60s where we had the freeway fight. I concentrated from the '30s to the '60s, but it did two things. One, it educated our members because really none of us knew much of what I was learning and I learned a whole lot.
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:32] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:18:33] And I became so involved with the charter members reading their minutes firsthand and in the in their words. And then I recall well, Mrs. George Marshall was our first President and she had her first board. And there was a Mrs. Driver that I could tell was her good friend and right arm gal. Just you could just read it in her. They were counting on each other. And later on in the scrapbook, I read that Mrs. Driver died and I was like, oh, my God, she died.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:15] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:19:16] And then I'm going, well, of course she died. [laughs] What were you thinking? She died, I think in the '50s or, you know, whenever. But I was reading it for the first time after feeling like she was alive.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:28] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:19:28] And so it really was quite a wake up call for me. And I began to love our history.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:34] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:19:34] And go on to...
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:37] You got to really experience their lives and you got to understand what they were going through.
Barbara Shockey [00:19:42] I did. Yeah, I think I did. I felt like I was right there at the table with them and I would take these minutes to bed and I'm reading them like a book. I mean, it was really quite interesting. In fact, the the Historical Society did a display of our archives, I think it was two years ago. And as a result, our archives are now being transferred and categorized at the Shaker Library. So we're very pleased with that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:15] Yeah, I've looked into them a little bit and it's a really great progress. So looking back at those first minutes, do you remember why they started the Garden Club or what was the push?
Barbara Shockey [00:20:29] Well, okay, the story that I take away from this is it was in January of 1930. Now we have to remember we've just had the stock market crash of the '20s and there were some other garden clubs that were started in the '20s that were fairly active in our Heights community. And so these women wanted to be their own club and they needed a purpose, and that was the thing that really impressed me. They decided they did not want to be a club that just had meetings and speakers like often times is the case with garden clubs or was at the time. And they wanted to have a purpose, a mission. But, they also realized that some of the other earlier clubs did beautify the Shaker Lakes. This was an overall theme with clubs back at that, in the '20s and '30s and up to World War Two really, was taking on different projects at the Lower Lake or Horseshoe Lake. And so we decided Horseshoe Lake, and our president, Mrs. George Marshall, we didn't use ladies first names back then, you know, so we just didn't and, or they didn't, and so we don't. Anyway. She had recently gone to Washington, D.C. and fell in love with the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin. And it… you can kind of draw the conclusion that she helped steer the mission from General Shaker Lakes to cherry trees. And that's what we did. And we have held fast to that. Now, we don't just do cherry trees and we're doing more native and other flowering trees. But our mission is still flowering trees to beautify the Horseshoe Lake region. We concentrated on Horseshoe Lake and we used to do both the Cleveland Heights side and the Shaker Heights side. And probably in the 1950s we decided to give up on the Cleveland Heights side because they were not mowing like we thought they should. [laughs] So we went to the Shaker side and that's where we are today.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:07] Okay. So how did they get. Because cherry trees aren't native to this area...
Barbara Shockey [00:23:12] Right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:12] Right? How did they get an unnative tree to this...?
Barbara Shockey [00:23:18] Well, back back then, there wasn't really much thought to native or invasive...
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:22] Okay.
Barbara Shockey [00:23:23] And it was just the idea that they were beautiful. But it fast became evident that they were fragile and we lost many of them in the winters. And the one record shows there was a grass fire...
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:40] Oh my gosh.
Barbara Shockey [00:23:41] And well, the Shaker Lakes weren't groomed like they are now. They were just woods and unkempt. And so it was tough. I mean, they would it would harbor disease for the trees. So that's again why we went to Shaker, because they were mowing and doing a little more care. But back in the early, you know, well before World War Two, I mean, this was, I don't, I don't think there was a lot of value placed on urban space like there is today, because there were a million empty lots and new construction and all different growth that went on in the '50s that, you know, we had wide open spaces then.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:28] Yeah, industry kind of boomed as time went on.
Barbara Shockey [00:24:31] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:31] People built it built up bigger houses because they were making more money eventually.
Barbara Shockey [00:24:36] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:36] And things definitely grew.
Barbara Shockey [00:24:39] Yeah. So all of a sudden today we really value the Shaker Lakes. People are aware of how many people get in their car and drive here to walk and enjoy nature. And of course the Nature Center's a whole subject right there.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:54] Yeah. So when they started the Garden Club, the Nature Center didn't exist.
Barbara Shockey [00:24:59] No, no. Our Garden Club started in 1930. We had a collection of other garden clubs that were already doing little well, like the Shaker Lakes Garden Club had a garden down at the lower end of Shaker, well the Lover's Lane, and of Shaker Lakes by Coventry. There was a collection of them which I won't even go into right now because it take too long.
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:27] That's okay.
Barbara Shockey [00:25:27] But we joined that. And now where were we going with that question? I don't remember. So. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:37] That's okay. The park and the Nature Center.
Barbara Shockey [00:25:41] Okay, well, yeah. Alright. So we... What happened was in 1964, George, no Frank Porter [sic; Albert Porter] was an urban planner I think with the City of Cleveland. And back in that era highways were the big deal, we needed freeways everywhere to connect the system, and he wanted to build his freeway right through the Shaker Lakes, and that's when the garden clubs were totally up in arms and decided this had to be stopped. And they were very much a part of a grassroots effort that included everything from Boy Scouts, Kiwanis, governments, the cities. It was an amazing group. But the Garden Club, as a coalition started what was called the Park Conservation Committee. And the Village is very proud to say that the President of that coalition was Mary Elizabeth Croxton, who was a Village member. So we had a very sizable part of this project. And it was just so with that... Oh, gosh, that's such a complicated story to say in a few words. The Nature Center came about as a result of an order by largely as a result of an autobahn study that helped. It was funded, I think, in part by the Shaker Lakes Garden Club. And they recommended that there be a Nature Center there. And that was one step towards blocking the freeway.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:33] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:27:34] And it took a few more steps and designations. And we had the Secretary of the Interior come to Cleveland and walk around the Shaker Lakes, and it was about a five year process with some of our members went to Washington, D.C. and talked there with people. So, yeah, I mean, there's just there's a whole a whole hour of conversation [laughs] on the '60s.
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:05] Do you remember the main people that went to Washington, D.C.?
Barbara Shockey [00:28:09] Well, yeah, it was a Mary Elizabeth Croxton, Jean Eakin—or Eakin [guesses at pronunciation], you can, Eakin, Eakin, I'm not quite sure which how she would have pronounced it—and Kay Fuller, the three from Village. Now, there might have been some others. I know the first President of the Nature Center was what was her name? I just had it. She was a member of Shaker Lakes Garden Club and she was a friend of mine in real estate. Yes. And I can't think of her name at the moment, but she was the first President for the Shaker Lakes. I mean, for the Nature Center.
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:53] If you remember it...
Barbara Shockey [00:28:54] I'll throw that in. Betty Miller.
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:57] Betty Miller.
Barbara Shockey [00:28:58] Betty Miller. I knew I was close. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:02] Well, that's cool. How did you know her in resl estate? Was she a competitor or was she a friend?
Barbara Shockey [00:29:06] Well, we're all competitors and all friends... [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:09] True, yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:29:10] So, 'cause we're independent contractors, basically. But no Betty was, I think also with the company that at that time it was A. B. Smythe and which turned into, let's see, Smythe Cramer, which turned into Howard Hanna. They keep merging and changing names. But, you know, I was so young when I joined.
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:36] Mhm.
Barbara Shockey [00:29:37] Betty Miller was one of the more seasoned agents and who I looked up to. And so I remembered her very well.
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:45] That's great. See, that's amazing that you actually knew people that were involved...
Barbara Shockey [00:29:48] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:49] With it. And did any of them tell you stories from that experience at all?
Barbara Shockey [00:29:57] Unfortunately, I didn't really discuss it with Betty. I wished we had before she died. I know Kate Fuller, who was part of the Washington trip, and also put together some pamphlets that they kept in Washington. Some of them we didn't get back apparently.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:16] Oh, geez!
Barbara Shockey [00:30:17] Yeah, I know, so. And Kay I knew. I did not know Mary Elizabeth Croxton. She died before I knew her. I know she lived just down the street on North Park.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:31] Okay, wow.
Barbara Shockey [00:30:33] And then same with Jean Eakin. I knew of her. I didn't really know her but I have to say these, these were courageous women because if you realize in that in the 1960s women could not even get a credit card in their own name.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:53] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:30:53] I mean it was a very different era. And for us to start picketing, you know, basically or setting up a, you know, a little booth at Shaker Square and saying sign this petition and really coming out of the, out of the kitchens and out of the gardens and going to try to save our our Shaker Lakes, it was really, it's quite a grassroots story.
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:41] Definitely a feat. Do you know if there, like I so I know women were kind of like suppressed back then kinda told sit down be quiet, right? Do you know if like any of these women had problems? Like with their families or stuff like that? During this time because they were taking a stand.
Barbara Shockey [00:31:41] You know, not that I'm aware of. There might have been a few words behind closed doors. [laughs] You know, there certainly could have been. But I think people were saying, well, I think all of the community was behind what we were trying to do. So both the men and the women were absolutely against this freeway and what it would do to both Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights. And the men were traditionally working and didn't have the time. So I think it was okay for them to do this. I do. You know, I'm just trying to think if there was any story relating to that. Nothing's popping into the mind that that would tell me differently.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:28] So with the freeway, if it would have been built, would it have destroyed the Grove and the surrounding areas around it?
Barbara Shockey [00:32:38] It might not have completely cut it directly, but it would have destroyed its value. And where we are sitting right now on North Park, across from the, between the Lower Lake and the Nature Center, we would have been probably part of the cloverleaf that would take the Lee... Lee Road was sort of across. There was the Lee Freeway and the Clark Freeway and there was going to be cloverleaf about where the Nature Center is now.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:09] Oh, with the merging....
Barbara Shockey [00:33:09] Yeah, So we were either part of the cloverleaf or I could have been a BP gas station.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:15] Oh my gosh.
Barbara Shockey [00:33:16] But it wouldn't have been a desirable place to live for residential.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:20] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:33:20] So it, essentially it would have destroyed the whole area and it would have separated the two of our mature communities of Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights that have been sort of as one.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:36] Mhm.
Barbara Shockey [00:33:36] It would have just been devastated.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:39] Yeah. I notice when you're driving through Cleveland Heights and Shaker, you notice the trees are so tall.
Barbara Shockey [00:33:46] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:47] That you like to not see those coming through here, and they're such like a landmark and well known figure, it would terrible for this place and it's great to still see them here.
Barbara Shockey [00:33:59] So. Well, we still have a number of trees, but I have to say, the last couple of years has been cruel. We've had some microbursts and storms and our yard alone, oh boy, overlooking and bending over North Park. We had some, I believe there were White Oaks that were planted in World War One era and three have fallen.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:28] Really?
Barbara Shockey [00:34:30] Right across North Park. Oh, yeah. It was a pretty scary time. The, well one of them. The gas company cut all the roots, which I found out later. But anyway, we've been losing trees and Shaker has taken a very aggressive stand where they are trying to replant trees and I know we're hoping to plant seven new trees in our yard, trying to figure out where exactly and what kind and looking forward to that because it's sad. I used to have quite a few trees in our front yard.
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:08] Really?
Barbara Shockey [00:35:08] Yeah. Now, thankfully, I've got neighbors with huge trees...
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:13] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:35:14] So indirectly I still have shade, but we've lost a lot of our direct and I feel very guilty that, you know, as they say. What what is the old saying? The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:31] Yeah. Oh my gosh. See, that's a good one because it is true. I mean...
Barbara Shockey [00:35:36] It is true.
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:37] Everybody... I remember in school we did the Arbor Day and we always...
Barbara Shockey [00:35:39] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:39] Had the trees that you take home.
Barbara Shockey [00:35:42] Yes. And I've killed every one of those. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:45] They're so fragile and when you give them toa child... [crosstalk]
Barbara Shockey [00:35:48] By the time they get home, it's like the little goldfish from the carnival! [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:55] Oh gee, so would you say that Shaker and the Garden Club today is still kind of fighting like how they were back then, so like with the trees and everything?
Barbara Shockey [00:36:09] Well, we've got a new fight brewing and that is with the draining, of Horseshoe Lake.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:20] Okay, so what's going on with that?
Barbara Shockey [00:36:21] Okay. Well, as I understand it, the dam at Horseshoe Lake has failed or is failing, and it was built by the Shakers, North Union Shakers, over a hundred years ago and it was built for commerce. It was not built for a dam flood control. And we have... It's part of the whole Doan Brook watershed and it's becoming well, according to the Ohio EPA and the Northeast Ohio Sewer, it's life-threatening for down below, down towards University Circle.
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:07] Really?
Barbara Shockey [00:37:07] Mhm. So they are recommending, and this has just happened this year, that they don't refill Horseshoe Lake, which they drained several years ago. And instead they are thinking of the fact that there's two tributaries that come into that Horseshoe Lake basin, keeping like two rivers going through it and then down towards the Lower [Shaker] Lake, which they want to keep as a lake, they're currently saying, even though that dam is not perfect. And then they think that would would do it. So it's going to be a bit of a struggle. There's a lot of people very against that. So we had the garden clubs are not happy. It's been a lake for so long. It was first called Hampton Lake and then changed to Horseshoe Lake. And so if nothing else, we want... We are a stakeholder because it will impact our Grove, and we want to be at the table to see exactly how they plan to do this, if that, in fact, is what has to happen.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:31] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:38:32] So that's our new fight.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:33] Okay. And we're going to take a moment's break. Her husband is coming home and we just want to make sure that he's okay and that he understands what's going on.
Barbara Shockey [00:38:43] Thank you. [recording pauses and resumes]
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:45] Alright, we are rejoining and we talked to her husband for a minute. And are you ready to get re-started, Barbara?
Barbara Shockey [00:38:53] Sure. Let's do it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:54] Alright. So you mentioned prior that the dam would impact, like the closing the dam would impact your Grove. How would that impact it?
Barbara Shockey [00:39:07] Well, we don't think it would directly destroy the Grove, but we certainly wouldn't be next to the lake, which we've enjoyed. Watering our trees in the future... It used to be you could draw some water from the lake. That's going to be impacted.
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:31] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:39:32] Will it be a destination location for people once the lake is gone? Well, I guess it depends what they do. What are they going to create there? Is this going to be a bird sanctuary? Is this going to be something with trails or is this going to be a wetlands that you just have to walk around or you'll sink in the quicksand? I mean, there's just so many questions that aren't answered yet. It's just a concern.
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:03] Yeah, that's a big concern. I saw the pictures of the... [phone rings] Sorry!
Barbara Shockey [00:40:15] Okay, sorry about that. That was my son. He has a special ring so... [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:23] Alright. So, okay, so it would impact that. But you guys don't know. And that's getting discussion.
Barbara Shockey [00:40:29] Well, yeah. And I think they won't know the answer. They were talking about years, several years...
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:36] Really?
Barbara Shockey [00:40:36] For studies. And so I don't know. I mean, there's just a lot of unknowns which has, everybody, nobody likes unknowns. And, you know, we've just donated a bench in honor of our 90th anniversary. And we put that in the Grove. And of course, it's overlooking towards the lake. And, you know, it's 92 years of having that lake be a focus area.
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:06] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:41:07] All of a sudden you have to rethink the whole thing. So we're, that's what we're confronting right now. It's just happening. This just came about within the last month or so, a couple of months anyway.
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:21] Who knows who'll listen to this in the future and say, oh, this is what happened.
Barbara Shockey [00:41:25] "There used to be a lake there?" [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:29] Well, that's interesting. So okay, so that's what the Village Garden Club is planning and working with. Right? So you said you held position as Vice President. Are you still in that position?
Barbara Shockey [00:41:41] No, I did two years as the Vice President and that's when I reviewed the history with the members. And the second year as Vice President, I became more involved than one normally would have because our President had a death in her family and I was away for a few months. So I stepped up a little earlier to take on a President role to help. So then I then when I became President, I already had a taste of it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:17] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:42:17] And enjoyed that, quite frankly, and made a lot of friends. When you're when you're in the trenches with friends. And as I mentioned earlier, I didn't have a lot of girlfriends.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:32] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:42:33] And to suddenly be part of a garden club and get on committees and work together as a team, you sort of know, you learn who's got a who's going to come through and who's going to disappoint. And it's a very interesting, interesting dynamics to watch women work together.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:53] Yeah. What, what year did you become President?
Barbara Shockey [00:42:57] Wow. Let's see. That's a good question. It's in this book. That, let's see, we've gone... It would have been two years ago because Kathleen just stepped down from two years and she took over. So I was 2017 to 2019.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:15] Okay, is it always two-year positions?
Barbara Shockey [00:43:18] Yes. I mean, certainly there might be some exceptions, you know, for various reasons, but that is the traditional term and it is the term for all our board positions. And the only thing that's a little different is the Treasurer's term is opposite the President. So when the President turns over, the Treasurer does not there's continuity and then she turns over a year later. So it's not the same one.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:49] Well, that's interesting.
Barbara Shockey [00:43:50] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:51] I see a lot of people it's kind of like when you have clubs, you don't know a lot of information about how the inside works. So is there any like how do you become a member? How do you get involved? Things like that.
Barbara Shockey [00:44:05] Okay, well, traditionally, in the day, you had to have a proposer and I think originally two seconder letters, two people that ... you've met and they often... They encouraged you to bring your proposed guest to a meeting so people can meet and then they were voted on.
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:33] Really?
Barbara Shockey [00:44:34] Yes. Now, that tradition has pretty much changed. We still do have a proposer, someone who will say, I propose Suzie to the garden club. And we have one person that will write a second letter saying, you know, I've met her and she's a great lady and blah, blah, blah. Nobody, to my knowledge, has ever been turned down. We don't intend really to turn down anyone. It's more of a just a formality to do that. And of course, back in '92, when I joined, our luncheons, included having usually a silver service at the end of the dining room table and one of our hostesses would pour the coffee. Somebody would help you with your sugar or your milk, and there'd be other people helping serve the luncheon and pick up the trays or serve dessert. It was very formal. It was very formal. Now it's so much less so. And it's more contemporary. We are quite contemporary.
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:50] Really?
Barbara Shockey [00:45:50] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:50] So members that joined, did you have to have a garden or did you have to have any prior knowledge to join?
Barbara Shockey [00:45:58] Not really. I mean, it would be lovely. We have people that are master gardeners. We have people that do have a lot of experience and we love it when they do. But I think the only thing we hope is that they have a desire to learn...
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:12] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:46:13] And an interest. Lately, the idea of conservation is a very important word and going native trees and getting rid of invasive species and so, or the architecture of a garden, the different aspects, it may not be "Gee, I want to plant a flower garden." It's way beyond that. It's just looking at the whole urban environment that includes gardens and beauty and and all that. So I think obviously we attract people who enjoy gardening. We've attracted some young members this year that came over to help us at the Grove. We had a clean-up day and we, I'm not sure if it was in the Sun Press, it was announced that there would be a clean-up day, and anyone who would like to help, we'd love to have their help. We had about, I don't know, at least four people, I think show up to help.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:12] Really?
Barbara Shockey [00:47:12] And three of them have since come on and have become members.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:17] Really? how many members do you think the club has now?
Barbara Shockey [00:47:20] Oh, boy, it's a moving target, of course, between people leaving or dying and new people coming on. But I would say our actives are probably around 50. And I say active because we have three types of memberships. We have the active voter, they're the voting members and they are actively involved. And then we have the sustaining group, sustainers, who are really no longer attending meetings on a regular basis for whatever reason they have. And they'd like to stay a member, but they can't really be engaged. And so we, they're still a member. And then we have for those that are, that have been very involved and for health, age, whatever, they can no longer participate. We will make them, well, not everyone gets that's an honor to become an emeritus member.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:26] Okay.
Barbara Shockey [00:48:26] And then they are a member for life. They don't pay any dues.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:30] Wow.
Barbara Shockey [00:48:31] And yeah, so we have that status also. So if I added all that up, we'd have, I think well over over 60. But I don't know the exact number right now.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:40] Okay, that's a lot. That's a lot more than I expected.
Barbara Shockey [00:48:43] Well, it is. It's a healthy number...
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:45] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:48:45] Because there are some clubs around here I'm hearing that are, have like twenty-some members and they're sort of failing a bit. So we're very pleased. We're very healthy. We're getting young members, we're getting a diversity of members, and we're getting people who want to learn about gardens. And I'm very energized with what's going on with Village Garden Club right now.
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:12] It's definitely, I know a resurgence of people that want to do like indoor gardening or creating their own vegetable garden.
Barbara Shockey [00:49:20] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:20] I've noticed that a lot on social media or in the public, it's been definitely a thing. So that's cool.
Barbara Shockey [00:49:26] Well, I think after Covid, a lot of people have appreciated their homes, their gardens of fresh food. They've, you know, restaurants were pretty much shut down. There were a lot of people that never cooked before [laughs]...
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:41] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:49:42] And suddenly said, oh, my gosh, you know, the old joke e-mail of the woman who went to the kitchen and went, oh, my gosh, there's there's nothing to eat. There's just things to make food with. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:56] Yeah, that's definitely one. How do you feel Covid has impacted the club?
Barbara Shockey [00:50:04] Wow, it's been interesting. I think when we entered the year of the Covid and we had to help train our members to feel comfortable with Zoom, which we did an amazing job. I was shocked at some of our older members. I thought, oh, they're never going to get this. And it's like, Oh yeah, we do it with our grandchildren. We know how to do this. So it's been quite nice. In fact, I think a lot of us enjoy it. I did because I was out of Cleveland for part of the year and I could be part of it. So it had its advantages. But also what was shocking is we in the last two years probably have seven new members during the Covid years. So even though we had to introduce them to our membership through Zoom and they never went, had a chance to go to a live meeting, they wanted to join. So it really didn't slow us down. It was kind of surprising. Please, pleasingly.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:13] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:51:13] Yeah, it was good.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:14] Did you still have programs during that time?
Barbara Shockey [00:51:17] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:17] Okay.
Barbara Shockey [00:51:18] We did. We did. We had monthly programs and most of our speakers were comfortable with Zoom. You know, I'm not going to say there weren't a few glitches along the way,
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:28] Yeah of course.
Barbara Shockey [00:51:28] But when you get a group of women together, they can always come up with some reason to chat. And it all worked out nicely.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:36] That's good. Are you guys back into in-person...
Barbara Shockey [00:51:41] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:41] Meetings?
Barbara Shockey [00:51:42] Yes, we transitioned back... Our, really our first get together was in May. In May we always have our Cherry Tree Luncheon. And that is the specific month that we do honor that our members who have died in that calendar year and also we plant a tree. At least a tree, this year we planted four. Yeah. And because, well, we had two years worth because last year we really couldn't do anything. Plus the city put a hold on allowing us to plant.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:17] Really?
Barbara Shockey [00:52:18] Well, because of the unknown with the Horseshoe Lake project.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:21] Oh, okay.
Barbara Shockey [00:52:22] They didn't know if the EPA was going to use our area as a staging area for their equipment. Nobody knew what was going to happen.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:31] Yeah.
Barbara Shockey [00:52:31] So there's been a lot of frustration with that, but anyway, we've done very well during this Covid time. It's just been amazing how I think it's people appreciate, as I said before, their gardens and their home and learning how to be self-sufficient. So it's it's really been a plus.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:56] That's really nice, actually. And I'm glad that you guys were able to have that event in person.
Barbara Shockey [00:53:01] Right. And that that is a big event. We miss the last couple of years. We've had it at the Cleveland Skating Club. So it's a little fancier than some of our luncheons. And we we had this year, we had a speaker talk about the tree, the cherry trees in Japan and their significance to Japan. So we have different programs. It was all very nice. And then then our annual meeting in June, we've, we're now making it a picnic and we've gone the last well, this last year, we went to Horseshoe Lake pavilion, in the garden at a playground and pavilion area of Horseshoe. So that's been very nice too.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:52] So I just want to go back for one second.
Barbara Shockey [00:53:56] Okay.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:57] The cherry trees, you said you plant them in honor of members. Do you do one per person or how do you...?
Barbara Shockey [00:54:05] Oh, you know, I don't know that there's a hard and fast rule that's written in ink. There were some years where we did not plant a tree unless we had someone die. We really didn't have a lot of extra funds. So it was maybe in part for that reason. But now we had two years’ worth. We had let's say we had five members the last three, two years and we ended up planting two trees and honor one tree was for two members and one tree was for three members. And we bring their families. We let the families know that that tree is planted in memory of them. You know, there's no signage or anything. It's not that. It's just very in that within the club. And we keep a record of who's whose tree is whose. We didn't always some of our historical little who was who got a little muddled. But it's back on track.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:17] That's good.
Barbara Shockey [00:55:18] And it's been... Yeah, I mean, now we also as I said before, we planted four trees this year, the other two trees we planted to flank the bench that we had installed with our name on it, it was sort of forget exactly what we decided it would say in honor of our 90th anniversary, compliments of Village Garden Club or something. And so they had two trees kind of next to it on either side. And it's beautiful. You'll have to see it over there. [crosstalk]
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:52] Yeah, I took a picture.
Barbara Shockey [00:55:52] Oh, good.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:53] Yeah. Yeah. It's a very beautiful bench and it's a great thing to add to the Grove for sure.
Barbara Shockey [00:55:59] Yeah, well, even without the lake, we've got the beauty of the flowers, flowering trees. But the lake certainly was thought of when they planted and put the bench where they did so.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:11] So we are reaching the end of our first hour...
Barbara Shockey [00:56:15] Okay.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:17] Ms, Shockey, and I kind of just want to end this with anything you'd like to add for this recording or, um, anything that we didn't cover yet.
Barbara Shockey [00:56:25] And well, I guess just for any person listening who is wondering if they're interested in joining a garden club, garden clubs have the reputation of being sort of rigid and snooty. And there's been a lot of changes. I have met so many new friends through Village, and I would say if you do join a club, get involved, get on a committee. You will find out so much about the workings of the club. You will find out so much about other women and make some friends, and you'll never regret it. I don't think you'll regret it at all.
Caitlen Cameron [00:57:10] So that's great. I... Definitely if you are interested in joining the Village Garden Club, reach out, or try to find their numbers. I know Shaker Historical Society knows a lot if you ever need any connections. And thank you guys for listening. Thank you, Barbara.
Caitlen Cameron [00:57:26] Well, thank you. Thank you.
Shaker Heights Historical Society
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"Barbara Shockey interview, 13 July 2021" (2021). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 918002.